Join the journey of a fairly recently graduated MSW social worker, navigating the expanse of hospice social work in the south, the ups and downs of graduate school, LCSW exam stress and excitement, and preparing for a future in macro social work practice

Friday, August 27, 2010

Here's where I've been

So, when I started this blog, my hope was to post once or twice a week with my thoughts and experiences as a young social worker working in a rural hospice. The last month has just gotten away from me and I must admit, I haven't found too much that I really want to write about. Life is just hard right now. Our hospice program is understaffed, and I found myself handling volunteer coordination, bereavement efforts, hospice social work patient care, and home health social work patient care. In other words, trying to do about four people's jobs while going to graduate school. So making the time and the clarity of mind to sit down and write a blog post has not been high on my priority list.

Here's what has been on my priority list: I found out that my out-of-state tuition will be higher than what the program advertised. Instead of $6,000 a semester (expensive, but reasonable... it's only for 3.5 semesters and I'm willing to shell out 20 grand for this program), it will be $10,000 a semester (outrageous, and somewhat unreasonable... there's a big difference between going into debt $20,000 for school and going into debt $40,000 for school). Crap. One of the reasons I chose this program, despite the fact that it is an awesome program at a great university, was because of its reasonable out of state tuition rates. So much for that plan.

I have been trying to locate a field placement that will allow me to continue to work at my job. On top of all of that, my job has continued in it's tumultuous pattern. Last week our director and one of our nurses resigned within hours of each other (for unrelated reasons). Now we are short two staff members and they have already told us that they will likely not be hiring to replace them. It's not been the most pleasant work environment these past few weeks.

So I have to come up with an unplanned 20 thousand dollars, and at the same time I will also most likely have to cut back on my hours at work (or find another job altogether...a hospice in a neighboring town contacted me last week for a part time position, so we'll see what happens there) to do my field placement. Oh, and I found a field placement that I would like to do... I just need to figure out the logistic of it. If I were to do this particular placement, I would be working in a day treatment center for children and adolescents. Then this blog would likely become a combination of hospice social work/child and adolescent mental health/MSW program blog. I can handle that. Lots of things to think about.

Oh well. I'd say life is still good. I'm counting my blessings and am grateful for the fact that I have a job. A job, by the way, that I am falling in love with. I never, not even for one second, wanted to do medical social work. When I went into social work, I imagined working for a non-profit organization doing macro-level social work and community development in some urban neighborhood. But can I just say, I love the hospice program? I really do. I love holding patients' hands and talking with them about life after death. I love that this is a field where I can be open about my faith and my belief in God without feeling like I am stepping on toes (I moved here from Utah, and discussing religion in a public way is a no-no there, so it is very refreshing). Ultimately, I love the fact that families are willing to allow me to be a part of their lives during a time in their lives that is so sacred, and when they are so vulnerable.

Oh, and I started teaching an early morning religion class at my church. I meet three teenage boys every morning at 6:30 am to study the scriptures. It's good times. No, really, it is. But it does occupy much of my time and mental energy that I once channelled toward blogging.

All of that said, the new semester of school begins in t-minus three hours. Now that it is costing me almost twice as much as I budgeted for, I am feeling slightly more motivated to succeed. And the new semester will give me even more interesting things to write about. I will put forth every effort to not go for this long without posting ever again.

3 remarks:

Btrflygl said...

I totally feel ya about being short-staffed. We are going through that too. I think my company feels it's just easier to keep spreading the work out to already over-worked people instead of investing in new staff. I don't know what the solution is, because I hear it happens pretty much everywhere.

Christian Sinclair, MD said...

Keep blogging we totally need more social workers blogging about hospice and palliative care issues. Check out some other hospice blogs for some inspiration on topics to write about.

And try to think of your blog as a creativity outlet not a burden or obligation. Maybe you can find a co-blogger out there.

LeighSW said...

I wish I could say, "I can't believe they're making you do the work of 4 people!" but it's an unfortunate reality for many hospices. I was very blessed to have 3 other hospice social workers on our team. I found out, however, that they're not replacing my position and so those 3 social workers will continue to do the work of 4 in my absence. Definitely see if that other hospice position pans out...it might be better to find another organization that has more stability than yours. And as far as finding balance, as I'm sure you say to your patients/families, one day at a time or one hour at a time, whichever gets you through the day. I'm rooting for you!

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